Daily Bloom is the shortform blog of New Bloom, covering breaking news events as they occur in real-time.
Day seven of the occupation began in what may have been the strangest way imaginable, with infamous gangster “White Wolf” Chang An-Lo paying a visit to DPP headquarters while dressed in military uniforms from the Japanese empire. Chang had previously threatened to “pass by” the Ministry of Education occupation site, announcing that he would do so at 7:30 PM. But his DPP visit was a surprise. Chang’s visit while dressed in Japanese imperial uniform attempted to include mockery of Japanese accents. But paradoxically, as a figure of the Taiwanese far right with an emphasis upon a right-wing China-centric nationalism, Chang’s use of Japanese imperial uniforms strangely echoes the Japanese nationalist right. Chang came with thirty to forty individuals, it appears. Chang is, of course, widely known for committing political assassination on behalf of the KMT in the past.
Namely, what Chang was targeting was what his vision of nationalism apparently sees as Taiwanese forgetting their Chinese roots and turning towards Japan and other foreign influences. This is exhibited, for example, a bizarre series of demands he made of students including that they give up the Chinese language or anything else originally from China. But the issue at stake is probably former Taiwanese president Lee Teng-Hui’s recent claim that the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands belong to Japan and not China or Taiwan, despite that both China and Taiwan have claims on the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands, although Taiwan’s claim is usually ignored in favor of China’s. Lee Teng-Hui, who served in the Japanese imperial army during the Japanese colonial period, is known for his closeness to Japan and continued sense of affinity between Taiwan and Japan. This, however, includes association with Japanese right wing politicians, including a recent meeting with Shinzo Abe, and support for the repeal of Article 9 of the Japanese constitution banning warfare at the hands of Japanese conservatives and right-wing nationalist politicians as Abe and others.
The afternoon saw the announcement that three of the seven students who had participated in the meeting were withdrawing from the decision-making body of the movement, including Chu Chen, who was the last who remained during the meeting with Minister of Education Wu Se-Hwa and who broke down in tears during the meeting. Because students emphasized that they were tired and exhausted, was interpreted and reported upon as that they were withdrawing from the movement entirely, while they emphasized their continued support of the movement. Nevertheless, none of those three students were sighted on the occupation encampment yesterday.
Certainly, a split is growing between those students who wish to withdraw and those who wish to stay. This is aggravated by the fact that Typhoon Soudelor will arrive in Taiwan tomorrow night and make landfall on the eastern coast, although the typhoon may have lessened from before, when it was judged to the the world’s strongest storm of 2015. Students had previously vowed to endure the typhoon, but it would be difficult to endure outdoors.
This debate was subsequently made moot during the night because of the visit of the White Wolf almost exactly on the dot at 7:30 PM. Apart from that the protest encampment swelled in the hour before he was planning on showing up, protestors forming a barrier to prepare in case of possible attack, the Taiwan Solidarity Union Youth Corps made what was a planned group entrance at 7:20, holding signs saying that they would protect the students. But discussions concerning the withdrawal of the occupation were sidelined because of the need to rally together forces for the White Wolf’s visit.
The White Wolf’s plans turned out to be less of an attack and more of a rally, but protestors and the White Wolf were separated by Zhongshan South Road for the duration of his presence. Actually, even if the White Wolf’s forces attacked protestors who strayed too close last year when he made a similar visit to the Legislative Yuan occupation, apart from isolated incidents, it was such that curious protestors and journalists could and did venture over to check out his rally. The White Wolf and his entourage probably numbered several hundred in number. As continuing the theme of earlier in the morning, his entourage carried placards with anti-Japanese slogans, and emphasized that Taiwanese were of Chinese origin but that students and others were forgetting that. Apart from the White Wolf himself, Zhang Xiuye of Concentric Patriotism Alliance infamy was also present.
Apart from that, separated by Zhongshan South Road, protestors on both sides started off by blasting music of different political ideologies at each other, the Ministry of Education occupiers began to hold a concert. This began with an attempt to lead the crowd together in singing Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall.” Who knows, maybe they watched the video New Bloom put together on August 2nd which used this as the theme song? But after that, followed a number of professional musicians.
The White Wolf’s rally came to an unceremonious end when police first cordoned off the area they were in and forcibly dispersed them. Some have suggested that this was because of Ko Wen-Je’s influence, since such an action would not have happened under Hau Lung-Bin. Nevertheless, if Ko’s influence can be seen the police action which dispersed the White Wolf’s rally, Ko’s influence on the police not being absolute, it is probably that Ko’s influence is far less upon the police forces stationed by the Ministry of Education encampment.
However, even as the debate about whether to withdraw or not continues, it appears that present circumstances may be coming to a legal resolution. It does appear that policy will be instituted allowing high schools to choose which textbook to use, the older version with a more Taiwan-centric view of history or the new version which returns to a Sinocentric view of history. Ko Wen-Je has announced that he would support allowing high schools to decide which version to use. Tsai Ing-Wen has announced that the DPP will send letters explaining the controversy to the high schools within the 13 counties under DPP control in order to support this freedom to decide which textbooks to use. There seems to be some debate within Kaohsiung where the city government has ordered schools to continue using old textbooks, but some schools not under the jurisdiction of city government may do otherwise.
Author: Brian Hioe
Photo Credit: Jessie Chen, Brian Hioe
Biography: Brian Hioe (丘琦欣) is an M.A. student at Columbia University, a freelance writer on politics and social activism, and an occasional translator. He is a resident of Taipei, Taiwan.